Thursday, 21 August 2014

Lakes Round 2014 Summary and New Photos

In June 2014 I walked a circular route in the Lake District with my good friend Al from Gloucester. We have done quite a few treks together including Glasgow to Cape Wrath (334 miles over 26 mountains 2003 to 2005) and the Wainwright Coast to Coast trek (2011 to 2013), each of these two divided up over the three years shown in brackets.

This year I just opened the maps up and planned a circular route around the Lake District that took in all of the 3000 foot mountains and several others. 

GPS: So that I didn't have to worry too much about route finding and could enjoy the views and look for photographs I programmed the route into my gps. I used Satmap X-pedition Planner web-based software and then transferred it into my Satmap Active 10 gps loaded with OS 1:50,000 maps of Great Britain. This is an excellent planning system that also programmes the gps then it is easy to follow the route and quickly see if you stray off-route. I have previously used it with programmed routes for the Alpine Pass Route across central Switzerland and the Wainwright Coast to Coast trek. The Munro's in Scotland would have been a lot easier if I had one of these when we were doing them! I also programmed Al's Satmap 10 gps with our route when he drove round to pick me up, and he had the 1:25,000 OS map card for a lot more detail than I had.

Maps: I carried the 1:25,000 Harveys maps and a compass for the better and more accurate detail on the tops but they are useless in towns as there is no detail at all. The Satmap gps was quite adequate to navigate to the nearest pub in towns so this wasn't a problem, it's auto-programmed to seek out Jennings SnecklifterThe maps were used but it was good not to have to carry them in hand all day and checking we were on track every hundred metres or so as I used to have to do pre-gps. 

Blog: I did a daily blog post during the walk illustrated with photographs taken on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. These low quality images were edited with Snapseed using the Crop tool, converted to Black and White, and finally Brightness and Contrast adjustment. To see the original daily blog click the title (Day 1 Thursday, etc) for each day. To view all trip posts for the Lakes Round click here.

Proper Photography: I carried one of my Mamiya 7 cameras with 65mm lens, Sekonic 508 spot meter, and my smallest Gitzo tripod (1028) with small Manfrotto quick-release ball head and a few rolls of Ilford FP4 and some B+W filters. In fact this was the only camera kit that I carried on most days. Days 3 and 5 I didn't carry the tripod and they were the only days I didn't take any photos on the Mamiya. Day 2 started really bright and warm so I used 1 roll of Ilford SFX infrared film with a Heliopan 715 filter from the top of Great Gable. For information, the Mamiya 7 gives 10 negatives of 7 x 6cm on a roll of 120 film. I often take duplicate shots or bracket exposures in tricky lighting. This is in case of coating faults or processing errors on the films that I use and results in just 4 or 5 images on a roll of 120 film.

This summary post has photographs taken on my Mamiya 7 camera as 7 x 6cm negatives on Ilford FP4 Plus 120 film and Ilford SFX infrared film. I have now scanned a selection using my Nikon Coolscan 9000 film scanner, edited them with Adobe Photoshop CS6 to look similar to a darkroom print and added them to my main gallery website, www.davebutcher.co.uk

Where I took a similar view on my Samsung phone and posted it on my blog I have included that for comparison.

Route Descriptions: these use the place names from the OS 1:25,000 maps that I used for planning the route. We generally took the shortest routes on tracks and paths between the places I have listed. You should be able to follow our route using the description and OS maps.

Luggage Transfer: Jan, my wife, arranged luggage transfer between all of our overnight stops so that we just carried light rucksacks. There don't seem to be luggage transfer companies willing to support independent hikers like us in the Lakes so Jan contacted a taxi company in Keswick. Suzi at the Keswick Cab Company/Suzi'z Taxiz couldn't have been more helpful and agreed to support us over the whole route from her base in Keswick. Suzi did the transfers herself and everything worked like clockwork. Highly recommended!

TOTALS
Miles: 85.5
Hours: 57 (including photo, lunch and pub stops) over 8 days
Metres ascent: 10,500
Miles per gallon (beer): 14


Day 1 Thursday 5th June 2014, Boot to Wasdale Head, 10 miles, 1800m of ascent, 8.5h

Route: Boot Woolpack Inn - Eel Tarn - Stony Tarn - Slight Side - Scafell - Foxes Tarn - Mickledore - Scafell Pike - Hollow Stones - Brown Tongue - Wasdale Head Hotel.

Start 9am (rain and low cloud until last hour), Scafell (964m) 12.15pm, Scafell Pike (978m, highest mountain in England) 2.15pm, Wasdale Head Hotel 5.30pm.

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Wast Water and Wasdale

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Wast Water and Wasdale


Day 2 Friday 6th June, Wasdale Head to Stonethwaite, 8.5 miles, 1700m of ascent, 8h

Route: Wasdale Head Hotel - Moses Trod path to bridge - Gable Beck path (between Kirk Fell and Great Gable) - Gable Beck Falls - steep scree track between White Napes and Great Napes - Great Gable - Windy Gap - Green Gable - Gillercomb - Sour Milk Gill - Seathwaite - Allerdale Ramble track to Strands Bridge - Stonethwaite.

Start 9am (sunny), Great Gable (899m), Green Gable (801m) 3pm, Stonethwaite 5pm.

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Gable Beck Falls

Mamiya 7/Ilford SFX 120 film Heliopan 715 filter, Wasdale from Great Gable infrared

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Wasdale from Great gable

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Ennerdale from Windy Gap

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Buttermere from Green Gable


 Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Buttermere from Green Gable


Day 3 Saturday 7th June, Stonethwaite to Keswick, 12 miles, 1000m of ascent, 6h

Route: Stonethwaite - Cumbria Way to Rosthwaite - New Bridge - Lingy Bank - Tongue Gill to Rigghead Quarries - High Spy - Maiden Moor - Cat Bells - Skelgill Bank - Cumbria Way to Derwent Bank, Portinscale, Keswick.

Start 9am (dry then rain by quarries), High Spy (653m), Maiden Moor (576m), Cat Bells (451m) 1pm, Keswick 3pm. No Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 photos today.


Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Cat Bells from Maiden Moor


Day 4 Sunday 8th June, Keswick to Threlkeld, 11 miles, 1200m of ascent, 7h

Route: Keswick - Great Crosthwaite past Keswick School - Thrushwood - Applethwaite - Millbeck - White Stones - Carl Side - Skiddaw - Little Man - car park near Whit Beck - Brundholme - Wescoe - Ings - Threlkeld.

Start 9am (sunny spells), Skiddaw (931m), Little Man (865m), Threlkeld 4pm.

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Derwent Water

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Derwent Water

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Bassenthwaite from Skiddaw

 Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Bassenthwaite from Skiddaw


Day 5 Monday 9th June, Threlkeld to Thirlspot, 8 miles, 500m of ascent, 3.5h

Route: Threlkeld - Burns Farm - near Low Rigg - High Rigg - Sossgill Bridge - Low Bridge End Farm - A591 at road bridge over river - Thirlspot

Start 9am (rain), High Rigg (357m), Thirlspot 12.30pm. No Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 photos today.

Samsung Galaxy S3/Google Auto Video, Tewet Tarn with and without rain



Day 6 Tuesday 10th June, Thirlspot to Grasmere, 10 miles, 1500m of ascent, 8h

Route: Thirlspot - Brown How - Browncove Crags -  Lower Man - Helvellyn - Lad Crag - Nethermost Pike - High Crag - Dollywagon Pike - Grisedale Tarn - Grisedale Hause - Tongue Gill - Lancrigg - Grasmere

Start 9.30am (rain am, then sunny spells pm), Lower Man (925m), Helvellyn (950m), Nethermost Pike (891m), Dollywagon Pike (858m), Grasmere 5.30pm

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Striding Edge in Summer


Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Striding Edge

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Catstye Cam

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Red Tarn

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Catstye Cam, Red Tarn

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Striding Edge from Lad Crag

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Striding Edge from Lad Crag


Day 7 Wednesday 11th June, Grasmere to Coniston, 14 miles, 900m of ascent, 8h

Route: Grasmere - road around west side of lake - track to Hunting Stile - footpath to Hammerscar Plantation and below Huntingstile Crag - Walthwaite Bottom - Elterwater - Track along north side of Elterwater - Skelwith Falls - Skelwith Bridge Hotel - Park House - Park Farm - High Park - track beside Tongue Intake Plantation - Oxen Fell High Cross - Track past Stone Chair Hill - Tarn Hows north, east then south sides - Tom Gill footpath through Lane Head Coppice - track south from car park then west to Tarn Hows Cottage - through Tarn Hows Wood to Low Yewdale - Cumbria Way to Coniston via Back Guards and High Guards woods

Start 9.40am (dull start then sunny spells), Elterwater 10.40am, Skelwith Bridge 12.30pm, Coniston 5.40pm

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Skelwith Bridge Falls

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film B+W Light Red 090 filter, Tarn Hows Sky

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Tarn Hows Sky

 Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Tom Gill Falls

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Tom Gill Falls


Day 8 Thursday 12th June, Coniston to Boot, 12 miles, 1900m of ascent, 8h

Route: Coniston - steeply up on the Walna Scar Road - turned right at National Trust car park - track goes north near Big Hill and The Bell - turn west on old quarry road through disused mine workings - Old Man of Coniston - Goats Hause - Far Gill past Little Pikes - track on north side of Seathwaite Tarn - Brow Side - Troutal - Birks - Harter Fell - Spothow Gill - Penny Hill Farm - Doctor Bridge - Boot Woolpack Inn

Start 9am (cold and damp am, sunny spells pm), Old Man of Coniston (803m), Harter Fell (653m) 2.30pm, Boot Woolpack Inn 5pm. The End.

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film, Cottongrass near Seathwaite Tarn

Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Cottongrass near Seathwaite Tarn

Mamiya 7/Ilford FP4 120 film B+W Light Red 090 filter, Scafell Range Sky


Samsung Galaxy S3/Snapseed, Scafell range from Harter Fell




Thursday, 14 August 2014

New Display in Buxton Gallery in the Gardens

I changed all of my framed photographs in my display in the Gallery in the Gardens in Buxton Pavilion Gardens.

There are a few new prints in the browsers too.

I had been meaning to make the change for some weeks and had all the pictures ready to go. Jolly pleased to finally make the change!

The Gallery is the home for High Peak Artists, of which I am one. Jan, my wife, is also a member with her colour photographs. The 43 of us in HPA rent the space from the local council and we share the running of it between us. It's open every day of the year except Christmas Day. All of the work is original and includes several types of painting, mixed media, print making, ceramics, wood turning, fabrics and textiles, glass and several jewellers.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

More New Alpine Images of the Western Bernese Oberland and Matterhorn Areas

Here are a few newly scanned images from a ski mountaineering trip along the Western Bernese Oberland Traverse in Switzerland.

Arpelistock Sunrise Ascent

 Grossstrubel from Schwarzhorn

Schwarzhorn Summit View South 

Wildstrubel View 

Here's a couple from the Saas Fee and Zermatt areas. The Allalinhorn taken while on a ski mountaineering of the Tour of Monte Rosa and the spectacular Matterhorn Sunset was taken while piste skiing.

Allalinhorn Snow Chutes 

Matterhorn Summit Sunset 

New Images Above Chamonix in the French Alps

I am busy scanning snowy pictures for my new book and have added quite a few to the web site. Here's a selection of the ones around Chamonix, especially Mont Blanc.

Mont Blanc Panoramic from Brevent

Mont Blanc from Tete de Sallaz

Mont Blanc and Mont Maudit

Mont Blanc and Chamonix from Flegere

Grandes Jorasses and Track to Vallee Blanche 

 Grandes Jorasses from Aiguille du Midi





Sunday, 20 July 2014

Aerial Photography On the Cheap

I have been fortunate enough to have a few rides in aircraft other than big airliners. This gives some scope for taking photographs, which is difficult from big planes as the windows are several layers thick and distort the view.
If you haven’t seen much fine art aerial photography have a look at the work of the late Bradford Washburn on Google or in your local library/bookshop. He did some spectacular photography. Not just the usual aerial views but intricate pattern pictures, some quite abstract.

This blog post gives a few hints and tips based on my limited experiences.

When you're high on a mountain it's easy to imagine you're in a plane and mimic aerial shots just by having a big drop in front of you and nothing close to the lens. So for me I was more interested in the patterns in the landscape than taking mountains from planes, although I did both as the viewpoints from planes are not accessible in any other way.
Helicopter Photography
I have been ski mountaineering quite a bit and ended trips 3 times with a day of heli-skiing. This has the advantage that you can spread the cost of the helicopter flight with several other people! The friends I shared with all appreciated that I needed to be in the best seat for photos, usually up front next to the pilot. Our mountain guide, always Jon de Montjoye, and the other 2 or 3 were in the back.
Unfortunately the windows have to stay shut in helicopters in the Alps, I think they’re afraid you’ll fall out through them! This means that you have to take your photographs through the helicopter clear plastic shell which is a bit like a large plastic bubble. The see-through floor is a little disconcerting at times!

The plastic adds distortions and reflections. You can use a polarising filter to try and remove some of the reflections if you have high ISO film/high ISO digital. The polariser will lose you 2 to 3 stops when giving the maximum effect, in fact it takes 1.5 stops as soon as you screw it onto the lens so don't use it unless you need to.
The Valgrisanche and Strahlhorn shots here have all had severe cropping to remove reflections on the negative. You can get away with some over the mountains but in a clear sky it’s too obvious and has to be cropped. The sharpness is always reduced when taking photos through windows/cockpit so some of these images were unusable at the time I took them as the reduced sharpness would be unacceptable on big darkroom prints. Now with film scanners and Photoshop sharpening tools that’s changed somewhat and previously unusable images can now be printed large.
Valgrisanche from the Air
Strahlhorn and Macugnaga Valley from the Air – wide view 
Strahlhorn from the Air – same lens as the previous one but taken from closer position

Light Aircraft Photography
I was fortunate to be offered a ride in a light aircraft by a very generous friend of a friend who lives in Steamboat Springs in Colorado and who had his own plane. I checked beforehand that I could take shots through an open window which was confirmed. This made a big difference to the picture quality but it was bloody cold!
I took 2 lenses but on checking while sitting in the aircraft before takeoff I could see that the normal 80mm lens on my Mamiya 7 would be best to avoid the aircraft structure in the photos. The 80mm lens is equivalent to a 50mm lens on a full frame digital camera.
I had a bit over an hour in the air and ran off 3 rolls of 10 shots on Ilford FP4 Plus 120. I fixed the shutter speed at 1/125 after stopping the lens down just 1 stop to f5.6 for best sharpness. The vibrations were very severe so the last film was shot at 1/250 wide open (f4) and these were in general sharper than the first 2 rolls. I used my usual Sekonic 508 spot meter to check the exposures every now and then as the scene changed.
If I had planned to do aerial photography I would have taken Ilford 400 Delta to give me a couple of extra stops of speed, 1/500 would have given sharp negatives despite the vibrations and bouncing up and down in the cockpit. Ilford 400 Delta is much finer grain than HP5, for example, but a bit more grainy than FP4.
A traditional aerial photograph of Mount Zirkel. The extra height above the mountain and the feel of the shot lets you know it was taken from a plane.
Another view of the Mount Zirkel area. This time we are seeing a bit more of a pattern emerging, not just the mountain range.
This is Rabbit Ears Pass from the air. The rock features called Rabbit Ears are better seen with their shadows on the trees. At ground level it's the rocks themselves that make the picture.
The Mount Zirkel ridge with thousands of trees. I put the ridge on the edge of the shot to highlight the trees and long shadows while eliminating the wing strut and undercarriage from the shot!
Here are a couple of land pattern photos of the Steamboat Springs ski area from above

Now some more abstract land pattern photographs with snowy roads and land features


Hope that gives you some ideas. Now where can I scrounge another ride in someone’s plane from?